February 14, 2013
Instagram Asks Judge To Ditch Terms Of Service Class Action Lawsuit
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Last December, Instagram announced they´d soon be making changes to their terms of service, allowing third party advertisers to display users´ photographs in ads, all without compensation to the user.
As these things often go, the Internet became an angry mob, calling upon one another to quit the service and pay closer attention to the terms of service documents for all social networks. One Instagrammer even went so far as to file a class action suit against the Facebook-owned company for breach of contract. Yesterday, Instagram officially asked a San Francisco federal court to throw out this suit.
According to Reuters, Instagram claims Lucy Funes, the Instagram user who brought the class action suit, could have simply deleted her account before these changes went live; therefore exempting her from the initial contract which she claimed had been breached.
Instagram announced these upcoming changes in a company blog post more than a month before the newly updated terms of service was to go into effect. This gave its angry users more than enough time to leave the service. Funes filed her suit against the photo-sharing service on December 21, weeks before the changes were set to go into effect.
As a result of the backlash, Instagram backpedaled hard on the proposed new terms of service and said they´d stick with the original terms which had been in place since the company began in 2010.
Instagram also claims in their court filings that Funes continued to post pictures on the photo-sharing site even after she brought the suit against them. In addition to changing the wording of their terms of service to allow them to monetize their users´ photos, the company also introduced a mandatory arbitration clause which prevents users from filing such class action suits under specific circumstances, a change which remains in effect today.
In her suit against Instagram, Funes claimed that even if users delete their account, Instagram still has access to their pictures and rights to use them in third party ads should the mood strike.
Instagram also refuted these claims, saying the new terms of service did not give the company access to users´ photos once they left the social network.
The big trouble with Instagram´s proposed changes to the terms of service included the wording “without any compensation to you,” wherein “you” refers to the user.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom announced these proposed changes in a company blog post last December, saying these changes could help them better collaborate with their new owners. Instagram users immediately became outraged, many left the service, and the rest made plenty of commotion about these proposed changes.
Systrom then wrote two more demeaning blogs to explain the changes, speaking as if users could not possibly grasp the difficult language of “without any compensation to you.” Systrom also went back on his original claims, saying it was never his company´s intention to actually sell the photos, they only wanted to option to do so when the right moment came along.
Facing increasing scrutiny, Systrom later reversed his claims, saying Instagram would return to the original language in the terms of service.